VIENNA (Reuters) — Nabucco pipeline engineers have begun detailed planning along the gas route between the Caspian region and Europe, taking the project into its next phase, the Vienna-based consortium said on Tuesday.
The five engineers in Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey will help prepare for negotiations with gas suppliers and enable local approvals for the project, which plans to pump gas through 3,300 km (2,051 miles) of pipelines from 2014.
The project has gained impetus following the gas price row between Russia and transit country Ukraine in January, which left over a dozen European countries without gas for two weeks.
But funding, the sourcing of natural gas and some disagreement between consortium members have also weighed on the project, which has had to push back some of its target dates.
The European Union’s agreement in Prague last week to smooth the way for more gas imports from the Caspian region was an “important political milestone” for the project, consortium head Reinhard Mitschek said in a statement.
“The participation of very important supply countries and Turkey at this EU summit showed the strong political will of all involved to utilize the fourth corridor as a new supply route for Turkey and Europe,” Mitschek said. Nabucco is expected to start pumping gas in 2014 if an intergovernmental agreement on the 7.9-billion-euro ($10.41 billion) project can be agreed as expected in June.